Astros easing Correa back into starting lineup

September 18th, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Astros are being creative in working shortstop back into the lineup, a move necessitated because Correa was able to play only one Minor League rehab game. Correa, who returned to the lineup Tuesday night for the first time since his back stiffened up Aug. 19 and went 0-for-4 in a 4-1 win over the Rangers, will have Wednesday off, giving him two days off in conjunction with Thursday’s off-day. He’s likely to play only two games this weekend against the Angels.

“Mentally, he’s back in the big leagues and he needs to perform, and he needs to do well, but from a workload standpoint, it’s not as if he’s going to be in there the entire time every single inning at shortstop,” manager AJ Hinch said. “Unfortunately, we ran out of games in the Minor Leagues so he’s going to have to get a little bit of his volume work here at the big league level and get his timing back.”

Correa missed 26 games after his back locked up on him last month and he was able to play in only one Minor League game because Triple-A Round Rock’s season ended on Friday. Correa stayed in Round Rock on Saturday and worked out to get in some reps.

“He’s a little behind,” Hinch said. “He only got to play in a Minor League game and do live BP. That’s not your norm for someone who’s missed some time. Given the injury, getting his timing at the plate is going to be really critical. We’re not worried about him not being healthy. We think he’s ready to go. It’s jumping back in at this level without any rehab assignment. It brings a little bit of anxiousness, but he’s excited to be back.”

Correa, who dealt with back problems last season that cost him six weeks, hit the injured list on an 0-for-12 slump. He entered Tuesday hitting .278 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs. Correa said he felt like his timing was good when he played for Round Rock on Friday, but he wants to keep seeing the ball well and put up competitive at-bats.

“I’m in no pain at all,” he said. “It feels healthy. I’m excited to go back out there with the boys.”

Injury updates

Astros relievers (knee) and (shoulder) are also close to returning:

Pressly, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last month, faced hitters for the first time on Tuesday when he threw an aggressive batting practice session that included fielding bunts and covering first base. He threw 20 pitches. There’s a chance Pressly’s next outing could come when he’s activated to pitch in a game later this week.

Peacock threw off the bullpen mound at Minute Maid Park during Monday’s off-day and he is getting more aggressive with his throwing. The next step for him is throwing a batting practice session Thursday, which will be his final hurdle before getting into a game.

Astros honor Toro, Javier

Infielder and right-hander Cristian Javier were named the Astros’ Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by the club’s player development department. Toro started the season at Double-A Corpus Christi, and Javier at Class A Advanced Fayetteville.

Toro, who’s on the Major League roster, hit .306 with 16 homers, 70 RBIs, 65 runs, a .393 on-base percentage and .906 OPS in 98 games in the Minors, mostly at Double-A. A switch-hitter, Toro led the league in OPS and on-base percentage, also ranking among league leaders in batting average (second), slugging percentage (second, .513), RBIs (fifth), homers (tied, seventh) and total bases (10th, 193).

“It’s super special,” Toro said. “It’s a pretty good feeling.”

In 16 games at Triple-A, the switch-hitter batted .424 with a .506 on-base percentage, 10 walks and five strikeouts. He was called up to the Astros on Aug. 22 and had one of the biggest moments of the season when he hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning on Sept. 1 in Toronto -- he was born in Montreal -- to break a scoreless tie to allow Justin Verlander to finish off his third career no-hitter.

Javier, 22, dominated at Double-A and finished at Round Rock, and he put himself in the discussion to be called up to the big leagues. The Astros will likely add him to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

Promoted from Fayetteville to Corpus Christi on May 15, he went 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 17 games (11 starts) at Double-A. In 74 innings, he struck out 114 batters, held opponents to a .124 batting average and 0.95 WHIP. In his final seven games (three starts) at Double-A, he struck out 53 batters and walked 14 in 26 1/3 innings.